The many different types of teaching prerequisites are designed to ensure that teachers are competent and prepared for life in the classroom. Common teaching prerequisites include possessing educational degrees, successfully completing certification examinations, and passing background or criminal checks. Public or government-run schools may have more stringent teaching prerequisites than private schools, as private institutions may set their own standards for hiring teachers.
Most formal teaching positions require the possession of an undergraduate degree from a four-year university. While the degree need not be in an education-related subject, it may directly influence eligibility for a specific type of teaching position. For instance, a person with a four-year degree in history may find it much easier to find a teaching position in the same subject, even if he or she can show competency in other areas. Educational teaching prerequisites tend to increase for college and graduate level teaching positions; at higher levels, a teacher may need to possess a graduate or doctoral degree in order to be considered qualified.
In addition to meeting educational teaching prerequisites, many regions require potential teachers to demonstrate their level of knowledge by passing certification tests. Tests may be multi-subject, general knowledge examinations, or they may be subject-specific. Depending on the requirements of the region, teachers may need to maintain certification by re-taking certification tests every few years. Some regions also require teachers to pass tests that cover regional educational law and practices. Teachers may also be required to show proof of certification in basic emergency medical training.
Many regions require that teachers submit to a criminal background check before becoming certified. This background check can help weed out those considered unreliable or unsafe in the classroom, including those with a history of drug or sexual offenses. Background checks may give officials access to health records, past employers, credit information, and any contact with the justice system, including divorce records and driving offenses. If a person cannot pass this teaching prerequisite, he or she may not be able to get any type of job in a school system.
Teaching prerequisites in private educational institutions can be quite different from those in public school systems. While many require teachers to hold a four-year degree, hiring for some positions may be based on demonstrable skill, rather than degrees and certification exams. Music, drama, creative writing, and art teaching opportunities in private schools may be open to all those with experience in the field, even if they do not possess traditional teaching credentials. Since each private school sets its own standards, it may help to inquire with school directors about the specific prerequisites requested by the school.